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Northstar Needlecase Closed

Needle Case

On one of my first solo trips as a lad, I learned two important lessons when a shoulder strap became unfixed from my rucksack.

The first was “Do not buy cheap shoddy equipment” and the second was “Never underestimate the importance of a needle and thread.”

These days I always carry a few needles and a roll of dental floss in my equipment. I usually have an awl with me as well.

The dental floss is strong enough for most repairs, Can be split for fine work, is easy to remove for a proper repair later if needed and if the plastic case is removed, a very compact and neat way to carry a good quantity of thread.

Northstar Needlecase Open

The Inuit say the two most important possessions are a knife and sewing kit but I’ve been hankering for a while for one of these needle cases {Nallo Goahti} as used by the Saami people.

While not being of the standard that I have seen examples of, I did feel that this complemented the Northern European style of much of my equipment.

The idea is simple; a piece of bone, or in this case a section of hollowed out reindeer antler, slides over a small felt or woollen pad attached to a leather thong which hangs from the belt.

A toggle stops the pad from being pulled through and the needles then lie in the pad, safely contained in the case.

I decorated this one by carving into the antler and filling the groves with beeswax and crushed charcoal.

A more traditional method is to make a paste of alder bark and water or oil and that produces the result you can see on my Saami made knife sheath.         The kuksa was decorated with kolrosing.

Bog oak awl in sheath

Following on from this I decided to make a new awl and a point sheath for it. Again this is an important and incredibly underrated tool.

I had a nice piece of bog oak that came from Flag Fen (About 3000 years old.) and I made a collar from antler.

The little slide on the retaining thong was inspired by the traditional lasso loops used by the Saami and the sheath was made from half tanned leather for toughness.

Bog oak awl
Awl
Fid and Suohpan

On the subject of underrated tools I would have to include a fid or marlin spike.

A sailor used to working with lines and cordage well knows how important such a tool is and yet there are many outdoorsmen who use cordage just as much but are completely unaware of how useful it can be.

This one is inspired by Inuit art and is made from an old piece of whalebone carved into a seals head gripping a silver ring.

This fid, or others like it, have been used to loosen jammed knots, open holes for threading through, splicing ropes and on occasion as a toggle to secure a temporary knot for hauling.

I have lost count of the occasions that it has proved a useful tool in a pinch and I certainly do not begrudge the couple of ounces it weighs.

 

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